If you are from another discipline, this guide may still be useful to understand the process.
This is not a intended to be a substitute for guidance provided for specific review methodologies or evidence synthesis techniques, such as Cochrane systematic reviews, for which there is an official Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Chapter 4 relates to Searching for and selecting studies.
You may also wish to review the Systematic Review LibGuide which includes guidance and a pathway for researchers producing their first Systematic Literature Review.
This guide will help students and staff undertaking a thorough review of the literature, whether as part of a dissertation or for a systematic review. While many of the examples are drawn from health, medicine and psychology, the principles apply to all subjects.
The search process is not linear but iterative. You will return to earlier stages as you search, read and evaluate. However, a classic systematic review protocol states clearly the search strategy ahead of conducting the final search and screening of results.
This video provides a demonstration of key skills for literature searching such as conducting keyword searches, using subject headings, combining search sets and managing references within databases and in EndNote.
Fast-forward to sections at these times:
0:36 What's new
7:10 Literature searching steps
8:14 Analytical tools
9:09 Formulating a search - boolean, search commands
15:36 Choosing sources - databases, subject guides
18:15 MEDLINE - advanced search demonstration
31:24 EMBASE - advanced search demonstrations